What Lights Your Fire At Work?
Finding The Flame
I’m not a fan of all the “find your passion” storytellers.
But I am a fan of finding passion in your work.
Hmmm, what to do?
If you’re familiar with my writing, you know I’m not a fan of all the “find your passion” storytellers. So-called experts tell you that you have to find your passion to be successful in your life. So begins the elusive search for your one true passion. Without it you can’t be successful, right? Trying to find your passion under the weight of that burden is overwhelming. If you can’t define the one distinct passion that makes you leap from bed every morning with enthusiasm, you feel like you’ve failed somehow. Is that true? Of course not.
Searching for your passion is often an exercise in frustration. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about loving what you do, and feeling genuine excitement about the impact you have in the world. The problem is that many people think about passion as a “what,” as in what-you-do-with-your-life. They also tend to believe that there’s one right answer. I think of passion more in the “how.” How you do the things you do is often much more important than what you do in terms of feeling passionate about your life.
Have you ever wondered why you can’t find your passion, after years deep in thought trying to figure it out? It’s because you’re trying to think your way to a feeling. Forget what Merriam-Webster says: passion in its most real sense is a verb. Passion is a sense of energy and enthusiasm. It's a feeling that can create focus and action. It isn’t something you can think your way into finding. You have to feel your way to passion. If you don’t know what lights your fire, you may need to think less… and do more. Taking action and assessing how it makes you feel may be the key to finding passion in your work and your life.
This week I share some wisdom from Marie Forleo, a one-of-a-kind mentor and inspiring force in this world. She recently published an article on finding your passion. There’s no storytelling here. It’s the best practical guidance I’ve seen on the topic, and so I share some of her insights with you here. Marie was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey just today, as I’m publishing this article. Oprah refers to her as a next-generation thought leader. I couldn’t agree more. I hope you agree.
Want to find your flame and figure out what lights your fire at work? Here’s some bite-size wisdom for you to consider.
Finding The Flame
With excerpts from the article:
“The Secret To Finding Your Passion (Hint: It’s Not What You Think)” by Marie Forleo. November 2012.
1. Stop Thinking. Start Feeling. Take Inspired Action.
“One of the most common stumbling blocks to launching a passion-based life is figuring out what you're passionate about in the first place. Sadly, many of us go about finding our passion in the wrong way. How? By thinking about it. We're habituated to use our minds to analyze, rationalize and figure things out. It's natural yet oooooh so torturesome.”
“Here's the problem: Passion can't be found in your head because it lives in your heart. And the flames of passion are fanned by engagement, not thought.”
“No matter how hard you try, you cannot figure out your passion by thinking about it. You need to take action and feel your way to your truth, from the inside out.”
“The endless and debilitating chatter in our minds often tries to talk us out of what our hearts are yearning to explore.”
“Embrace this key idea and it will change your life: Clarity comes from engagement, not thought. But taking action on something you suspect to be your passion is just part of the story.”
Marie Forleo, November 2012
If you’ve been thinking for years, trying to identify your one true passion, why not consider a different approach? Stop thinking. You can’t think your way to passion. You have to feel your way to passion by taking inspired action. Explore things that interest you. Take action and then see if you feel passionate while taking that action. Check in with yourself to see if it feels “warmer” or “colder” than what you’re doing today. That’s the best way to know if you’re on the right track. At the same time, consider step two below.
2. To Feel Passion, Bring Passion.
“There's another important (and rarely discussed) piece to the passion puzzle.”
“Proactively bring passion to everything you touch, to everything you do. No matter what task is in front of you, bring as much enthusiasm and energy to it as you possibly can. Bring your full attention, your full presence, to every task in your day.”
“When you make this shift, you'll ignite business ideas and creative insights far beyond what your thinking mind alone is capable of. And let's face it. Passion is contagious. When you're fully present and passionately engaged with your life, people around you take notice and want in on whatever you're doing.”
Marie Forleo, November 2012
I often recommend that clients and colleagues focus less on passion and more on purpose. Why? First, you can’t think your way to passion (see above), so focusing on “finding” it can be challenging. Second, when you connect to your purpose, you understand that what you do at work and how you do it impacts the lives of others. Here’s how it normally plays out. Once you know that your work matters, you start to focus more intently on serving your purpose. You feel good about yourself and your work, and become inspired to do more. Once you’re inspired, you want to do even more that inspires you. It’s a positive cycle that feeds your enthusiasm, and is often a direct and natural path to finding passionate pursuits. It’s usually far less about what you do, than how you do it. The more inspired enthusiasm you bring to all you do, the more inspired you become. For more on finding inspiration, read this article.
3. Love It Or Leave It.
“Want more? Another side benefit to proactive passion is kicking life-sucking habits like procrastination, resistance and complaining straight to the curb.”
“From this moment forward, if you don't like something, you've got two choices: stop doing it (quit, delegate it, hire it out) OR love it with all your heart. Anything else is madness.”
“Remember, we human beings are creatures of habit. You can't be whiny, complaining and miserable for 80 percent of your day and expect to be enthusiastic and passionate in the last 20 percent. And if you're feeling really stuck on this whole "finding your passion" thing, this is the fastest way to get your motor running.”
“Know this: Truly successful people are never the victim of their circumstances. They realize they have ultimate power in any situation and take responsibility for their experience. Don't forget: In any given moment, if you can't change what you're doing, you can always change how you're doing it.”
Marie Forleo, November 2012
Once you stop thinking and start doing, especially when you bring enthusiasm to what you’re doing, you’re much more likely to find things to feel passionate about. When you bring passion and purpose to everything you do, you quickly start to realize this is easier in some areas and much harder in others. If you’re really interested in figuring out what lights your fire and finding the flame at work, you may have to stop doing some things you’re doing now… or start to approach them differently.
It’s scary to think about potentially giving things up. Sometimes you have to let go to allow new things in. Once you remind yourself that this is your life and time marches forward whether you feel passionate or not, it becomes less scary and more essential to make some hard choices that support a more passionate life. That said, you can’t always make a change. This thought from Marie is incredibly powerful to remember: “In any given moment, if you can’t change what you’re doing, you can always change how you’re doing it.” If you can’t leave it, try to love it. Go back to step two and see if you can change how you play without changing the game.
The truth is that very few of us have a passion that burns so brightly we can’t possibly imagine doing anything else. For most of us, we feel more enthusiasm toward some things than others. We like some aspects of our job and we dislike others. Sometimes we go through times where work is drudgery and we find delight only in our life outside of work. It can be hard to find something that lights your fire at work.
What if you could bring more passion to your work by changing things up a bit? What if you chose to think less about passion (or lack of it)… and do more? What if you brought passion and purpose to every activity, which made you feel more passionate about your life overall? What if you learned to either love what you do or leave it behind?
It seems simple in concept, and yet a little scary to actually do. Here’s the thing: It isn’t as scary as it sounds. Think of it this way.
1. Take Inspired Action - If you have an interest in something, you only have to take one small step or do one small thing to explore the interest. If it feels right, then you can take another step. If it feels wrong, you simply try something else. You won’t know until you try. To find the flame and light your fire, stop thinking and start doing.
2. Bring Passion - For every single thing you have to do at work, why not do it with enthusiasm and passion? You may just find that changing your approach makes all the difference in how you feel about it. Focus on the thing that’s good or fun or rewarding in every activity, and see if you don’t start to feel more passion in your work. Sometimes you have to bring passion to feel passion.
3. Love It or Leave it - Making the choice to love what you do or leave it seems harsh. Is it really? You can probably find something to love about your work and focus there to feel more passionate about your circumstance. If you can’t love it, at least most days, you should probably consider leaving it. Go back to step one and take some inspired action toward something new. See if it leads to bigger changes.
I’ll never be the person who says that you have to find your passion to be successful. I’m the person who believes that you can be successful doing anything at all. I just also believe that you’ll enjoy your success a lot more if you know what lights your fire… and do more of that than anything else. Pursue what interests you, bring your very best to it, and love it. If you can’t love it, you’re not quite there. Be willing to repeat the cycle until you can.
One more thing: ignore the storytellers. There’s not just one thing you can do with passion in your life. And you don’t have to be passionate to be successful. Your interests and passions will evolve multiple times over a lifetime. The best thing you can do? Get out in the meadow and chase some butterflies. Don’t look for the perfect butterfly; that requires too much thought. Chase the ones that catch your eye. You never know where they may take you.
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For more about Marie Forleo, visit her on the web at www.marieforleo.com or check her out on MarieTV at http://www.youtube.com/user/marieforleo. She’s smart, saucy, inspiring, and beautiful inside and out.